Rallies and COVID-19

Joining a rally during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk. This isn’t disputed.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending anyone who has recently been part of a mass gathering, including rallies and protests over the past week, get tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).”

This testing should be done “5-7 days after participating in large group rallies, or immediately if symptoms develop.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s Department of Public Health, has said people who have been in gatherings should self-isolate for 14 days or, at the very least, avoid coming in contact with people who are 60 or older or who have underlying health conditions.

People have asked me how this affects someone who is at greater risk of COVID-19 complications, like Reese. My answer is, it’s on my mind and I’m just not sure. We had recently been taking baby steps. We were cautiously moving forward and we were going to continue to do so, as set out by the state guidelines.

But I’m not sure how much the large crowds and potential for rapid spread should change this. Of course, my concern is not just for Reese. My parents are over 60 and my mom also has underlying health conditions. Chris’ parents, my aunts and uncles, my immunocompromised friends… there are so many people I think about. I know that I am not alone with my worry, this is a pandemic after all. I’m sure you share similar concerns.

I am aware of this extra threat, and I will be keeping it in mind, as I always do, while we wait and see.

The thing about masks

Cloth face masks work to help slow the spread of the virus. This is the case when they are combined with frequent hand-washing and social distancing. The key is this: “Do not use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.” Social distancing is staying 6 feet away from others. I think of it as a big circle around my family. That is hard even when you aren’t in a crowd, believe me, I am very aware.

Back in March, masks were discouraged for a number of reasons. Many of these have been debunked now, but one still stands. Cloth masks or surgical masks (not N95s) were discouraged because they can give the wearer “a false sense of security”. A mask helps to slow the spread of the virus when you also social distance and frequently wash your hands. (They do not work with small children. In fact, they touch their faces more. Believe me, this was a hot topic and a struggle for me for many months at UCSF.)

Stay safe and stay well.

Link to COVID-19 testing sites:

Testing in Illinois, please find this link HERE.

Testing in the overall US, please find this link HERE.

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